CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools allowed up to 500 fans to attend outdoor sporting events at high school football games for the first time Friday.
The change was made in accordance with Gov. Roy Cooper's new executive order that allows more fans to attending sporting events across the state. CMS will allow 500 total fans, with 300 allowed for home teams and 200 for visitors. It's the largest number of fans allowed to attend games since the pandemic halted sports last year.
Face coverings are required on CMS property at all times and social distancing guidelines will be in effect for spectators. Still, it's a welcome change for families after CMS' previous 100-person limit for sporting events.
Jennifer Mowrey, whose son Jack Mowrey plays lacrosse and football for Ardrey Kell High School, said the 100-person limit was going to make it tough on parents and families to attend games.
“I want to be there and support him," Mowrey said. "He loves to play. He loves the excitement of the game and having fans there.”
Myers Park High School hosted its first home game with 500 expected fans Friday.
Myers Park Athletic Director Brian Poore said red squares are marked on the bleachers for social distancing. Fans will use digital ticketing through an app and will have to pass through a health screening at the entrance.
The concession stand will only offer pre-packaged food like candy or chips.
“I think we’ve got plenty of room, plenty of room on the visiting side as well," Poore said. "Everyone is masked up. When we’ve had our other games, we’ve had no issues with having to remove anybody from the stadium.”
Poore said there is excitement that more fans will be allowed in the stands after only 100 were allowed in the stands the week before.
“It’s going to feel a lot more like a football game on a Friday night," Poore added.
Myers Park Head Football Coach Mark Harman said a few months ago he had his doubts this season would even happen.
Harman said the players are rolling with the ever-changing COVID-19 safety guidelines to keep the season going on the field.
Having the players' biggest fans in the stands gives the student-athletes extra support, Harman said.
"I think our kids are just going to have a pleasant surprise to kind of look up there and not see, you know, bleachers necessarily," Harman said, "but actually see, you know, mom and dad's here, you know, grandma and grandpa, other people that have helped get them to and from practice."
Harman said the added fans make a big difference to his players.
"They're kind of looking for that, you know, that support or that smile on their faces that, you know, of just being cheered on by the people that are raising them to be good young men," he added.